If you’re a fellow procrastinator, you can probably relate. One of the reasons so many of us are struggling with willpower issues is that we never had to develop any willpower in the first place. Then, all of a sudden, you’re a grown up and enter the real world – without any proper self-control skills whatsoever. Ouch!
“Uh Oh… How Did I End Up Here?”
I really started becoming aware of this dilemma when I was 20 years old. I was still at university at the time, but had just decided to learn about internet marketing to earn some money online. For the first time in my life, I had to get things done on my own watch without anyone helping or pressuring me from outside.
It was at this point that I became painfully aware of how undisciplined I was and just how much suffering that caused. I realized there were so many things I wanted to do, but that I just couldn’t get myself to follow through with. More importantly, I realized that not being able to follow through always ended up causing me massive pain in the form of shame, guilt, and disappointment.
One common scenario was waking up in the morning, hitting the snooze button, getting up 2-3 hours late, already feeling guilty and unmotivated, unable to follow through with my morning ritual, feeling even worse, and then numbing myself for the entire rest of the day.
Once this procrastination cycle had started, it became almost impossible for me to get out again. After an initial act of procrastination, I couldn’t help but distract and numb myself with video games, YouTube clips, or the TV. Why? Well, because otherwise I would have had to face the self-criticism and guilt that was bubbling up within me.
The cycle looked something like this: Lack of self-discipline (among other things) led to procrastination, which led to feelings of shame, guilt, and disappointment, which felt incredibly painful, which led to numbing and distracting myself, which meant even more procrastination, which meant even harsher self-criticism and more negative emotions, which meant even more pain, which meant even more numbing and distracting myself, and so on.
This madness kept repeating itself over and over again. After a while, I knew exactly how it worked. When I was able to follow through with my plans, I felt good and everything was fine. When I didn’t find the strength to follow through, I ended up beating myself up and feeling terrible about myself.
After witnessing and suffering from this phenomenon for weeks and months, I started asking myself if I was supposed to live like this for the rest of my life – constantly in fear of what would happen if I procrastinated? Constantly struggling to follow through with even the tiniest things like waking up on time, doing the dishes, cleaning my room, paying the bills on time, or going to the doctor when it’s necessary?
As you can imagine, this was an incredibly stressful and painful period of my life. Sometimes it was so bad that I was literally crying in my bed. I was afraid of never finding a way out of this.
The good news is, I did find a way out of it.
The Way Out: 4 Strategies That Made All the Difference For Me
And that brings us to today – a much brighter world. Am I completely free of procrastination? I wish… but of course not. I still procrastinate occasionally and I still struggle with following through on my lofty aspirations. Compared to the old days, however, it’s a night and day difference.